Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Holy Fire Prompts Mandatory Evacuations of Thousands in California

EDM Friday Briefing: Holy Fire Prompts Mandatory Evacuations of Thousands in California

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for August 10, 2018: The arson-started Holy Fire burning in Southern California has forced the evacuations of more than 21,000 people; a mass shooting in Fredericton kills four in the eastern province of New Brunswick, Canada; new allegations state that starving children found in a New Mexico compound were being trained for future school shootings; heavy criticism causes the TSA to reconsider its proposed idea to remove screening from 150 of the nation's smaller airports; French authorities evacuated hundreds of campers after flash floods inundated parts of the nation's southern region; Phoenix, Arizona is working to recover from strong storms that led to flash flood and dust storm warnings on Wednesday; volcanic activity on Hawaii's Mount Kilauea appears to be slowing down; and smoke from California's wildfires observed as far to the east as New England.

  1. The Holy Fire, a wildfire allegedly started by an arsonist, has burned 10,236 acres in Orange and Riverside counties in California since it began Wednesday. Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for both counties. The dangerous blaze has forced the evacuation of over 21,000 people from their homes, and it is only 5 percent contained according to fire officials. The incident is being managed by a Unified Command, and the most recent update indicates that an unstable atmosphere will create weather conditions highly likely to encourage extreme fire behavior.
  2. Police in Fredericton, in the eastern Canadian province of New Brunswick, responded to reports of an active shooting early Friday morning and warned residents to remain in their homes with the doors locked. According to authorities, at least four people were killed. Police confirmed they had one suspect in custody. Residents were asked to avoid the Brookside area while the active investigation into the incident continues.
  3. New allegations are being made against the two men and three women that were arrested at a compound in New Mexico, where 11 starving children were discovered. Authorities allege that the children they found in the compound were being trained for future school shootings and also stated that the remains of an unidentified young male were found on Monday. The 11 children were discovered during a raid last Friday by authorities looking for a boy allegedly abducted by his father from Georgia in November.
  4. Officials from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have stated they will not be removing screening checkpoints from 150 of the nation's smaller airports, despite studying the elimination of them to reduce budget costs. The proposed idea came to light on August 1 and received heavy criticism and backlash for its alleged implications for national security. TSA officials stated it was simply a budget exercise -- an idea that would have saved the agency $115 million per year -- but the risks outweighed the benefits and the idea will not be pursued.
  5. French authorities evacuated 750 people from area campgrounds after flash flooding hit the southern region of the nation. Ten of those evacuated were hospitalized with minor injuries, including four children with hypothermia. Heavy rainfall followed an intense heat wave, causing the Ceze and L'Ardeche rivers in the northern Gard region to overspill their banks. The water flooded campsites, cut off roads and trapped campers.
  6. Phoenix, Arizona, was struck with severe weather on Wednesday, resulting in widespread power outages from strong storms that led the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue flash flood and dust storm warnings. High winds and heavy rainfall obscured visibility for drivers, who were encouraged to avoid driving and to pull over during the dust storms. Two teenage boys playing in a park were also struck by lightning. One suffered severe injuries, while the other went into cardiac arrest.
  7. The volcanic activity at Hawaii's Mount Kilauea appeared to be slowing down since this past weekend after months of spewing lava into neighborhoods and the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stated that a significant decrease in activity has been observed in Fissure 8 since Sunday. Surveillance of Fissure 8 by the USGS on Tuesday highlighted that the channel had completely crusted over. Changes observed at the summit suggest that the lava feed to the Lower East Rift Zone had decreased significantly.
  8. Smoke from California's wildfires appears to have drifted as far east as New York and parts of New England. Maps released by the National Weather Service (NWS) on Wednesday show the path of the smoke as it drifted east. Although most of it has remained at least a mile high in the air, one map did show surface smoke in New England. Multiple wildfires are burning in California, with three major wildfires claiming the lives of eight people. The victim count includes three firefighters who were killed in the Carr Fire in Northern California near Redding.

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.